JAKARTA: Smear tactics against Indonesian presidential front-runner Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are increasing as the campaign enters its final days, an official of his party said yesterday.
SMS mobile phone messages alleging that Yudhoyono is a Christian and that his Democrat party is Christian-dominated have already reached an estimated one million people, said Max Sopacua, the party's deputy secretary-general.
Campaigning ends on July 1 and Indonesia goes to the polls on July 5. Opinion polls have given retired general Yudhoyono a massive lead.
There is a lot of black propaganda by SMS, Sopacua said. This is a technique used by a presidential candidate to besmirch him because he is in the lead.
Sopacua refused to name the culprit.
Yudhoyono is running against President Megawati Sukarnoputri, another retired general Wiranto, former leader of a Muslim group Amien Rais and Vice-President Hamzah Haz.
Sopacua said the SMS messages have been sent to Islamic boarding schools and other Islamic groups, among others.
The messages allege Yudhoyono is a Christian when in fact he is Muslim, Sopacua said.
They also say the Democrat Party is dominated by Christians, he added. In fact only 13 of the party's 57 legislators are non-Muslim, Sopacua said.
The smear tactic doesn't make sense because Yudhoyono has also been falsely accused of supporting Islamic law, he said.
Sociology lecturer Daniel Sparringa said recently that Yudhoyono was also battling a whisper campaign that his running mate, Jusuf Kalla, is anti-ethnic Chinese.
Wiranto has been targeted on video compact discs circulating in three cities.
They begin with a recording of a concert, which is interrupted by images of the fatal shooting of demonstrators by security forces here in 1998 and 1999.
Wiranto denies responsibility for the killings. He is standing for the Golkar party. AFP
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